PSAC calls on federal parties to fully fund universal pharmacare

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is calling on all federal parties to put forward a universal pharmacare plan that gives every Canadian access to the medication they need.

To date, both the New Democratic Party and the Greens have pledged to fully fund universal pharmacare, but the Liberals’ promise falls short of the mark, while the Conservatives have rejected the idea outright.

“While any investment in pharmacare is a positive step forward, it’s time to provide universal coverage so no one is left struggling to afford prescription medication,” said Chris Aylward, Public Service Alliance of Canada National President.

A national pharmacare plan could be fully implemented by 2027 and would cost $15 billion a year, according to an expert panel led by former Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins.

But the current patchwork system – which includes coverage through private and employer-paid insurance, as well as drug coverage in some provinces – already costs Canadians roughly $34 billion a year, and that still leaves hundreds of thousands of Canadians without coverage.

The NDP are proposing to spend $10 billion a year on universal pharmacare to cover all necessary medication and medical devices starting in 2020.

The Green Party’s pharmacare plan would cost $26.7 billion a year once it’s fully implemented in 2020-2021 and would ensure all Canadians have access to prescription drugs.

The Liberals haven’t included the cost of universal pharmacare in their platform, instead pledging $6 billion over four years as a “down payment” towards implementing pharmacare, ensuring everyone has a family doctor and improving mental health services and palliative care.

The Conservatives would instead consider coverage only for those without private insurance plans, lowering drug prices and improving access to medication for those who can’t afford it.

Canada is the only country with a universal health care system care that doesn’t also cover prescription drugs. Three million Canadians don’t fill their prescriptions because they can’t afford to, according to the Hoskins panel.

“Without a universal pharmacare plan, we are all made vulnerable because at any time, any one of us could fall through the cracks,” added Aylward. “Nobody should have to decide between buying groceries and getting the medicine they need.”

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October 1, 2019